Two young women who once played with Barbies design her an environmentally friendly house with a unique closet system. Alas, it will stay a dream.
Barbie has a new Dream House.
The American Institute of Architects has announced the winner of its competition to design a home for Architect Barbie: a four-story design with walls of windows, perfect for those Malibu beach views.
The winning designers were Ting Li and Maja Paklar, recent graduates of theHarvard Graduate School of Design’s MArch program, who are now working in New York toward their architecture licenses. In a written statement, the two said they had played with Barbie dolls as children in China and Croatia.
Architect Barbie's new home has all the latest "green" features: solar panels, bamboo flooring, operable shading devices for the walls of windows and a rooftop garden. The house has no garage or driveways, since the "signature Pink Scooter is her vehicle of choice." She can park that under the house.
The home is essentially four rectangles, with a kitchen, dining and living area on the main floor, an office, library and meeting space on the second floor, bedroom and bath on the third floor and inspiration room and exercise room on the fourth floor. It's 4,881 square feet, plus 2003 square feet of terraces.
Unable to provides services to all its residents, the city decides to focus on those most likely to survive — which may hasten the demise of other neighborhoods.
One of the effects of plummeting real-estate values has been plummeting tax revenues for cities and counties.
The crunch has been especially acute in Detroit, where property values have fallen way below 2000 levels. The city sprawls over 139 square miles, making delivering services a challenge. Foreclosures are rampant, and more than 200,000 people have moved out in the last decade.
Detroit has now come up with a type of triage: Invest more in city services in neighborhoods that are most likely to survive.
"We can't continue to do business the same way we have," Mayor David Bing said last week when he announced the plan. "We must be smarter about how we align our resources.
The plan divides Detroit neighborhoods into three categories: steady, transitional and distressed.
Neighborhoods deemed "steady" would get more code enforcement, streetlight repair and clean-up. Neighborhoods deemed distressed might see more demolition of vacant homes, but less of other services.
While the triage approach may improve "steady" areas, residents of distressed communities could see their already low property values fall even further as the areas become even more decrepit.
Some cities and homeowners associations restrict where you can plant vegetable gardens. Disobey the rules and you may be threatened with jail or fines.
If you live in the White House, you can plant a vegetable garden on your lawn.
If you live anywhere else, you'd better check the rules of your city and homeowners association first.
As more people try growing their own food, they are running afoul of city ordinances and homeowners association rules that restrict how and where gardens can be planted.
In Oak Park, Mich., Julie Bass was threatened with being dragged off to jail for planting vegetables on her front lawn in violation of city landscaping ordinances.
"A tomato vine on a tomato cage is just not attractive," Oak Park City Planner Kevin Rulkowski told The Detroit News. "Add that to the big wooden boxes. It's not the first impression people often put in front of their home … or want to see in their neighborhood." After an international outcry, the city dropped the charges while officials looked more closely at the law.
In Weston, Fla., an upscale community west of Fort Lauderdale, Amy Becerra faced the wrath of her homeowners association when she planted vegetables and fruit in her back yard. That case, too, was put on hold for further investigation.
While grass is the most commonly used material for yards, it is less ecologically friendly than a number of plantings, including native shrubs and ground covers, rocks and cactus in desert areas or raised vegetable beds. Plus, you can't eat grass.
Residents of an upscale development in South Dakota thought the government's flood-control measures would protect their homes. They were wrong.
When people moved into a South Dakota planned community called Dakota Dunes 20-plus years ago, they didn't expect to find themselves at a beach.
True, the community was at the confluence of the Missouri and Big Sioux rivers. Old-timers pointed out that the river created the dunes and the river could take them away.
But the developers said a system of levees along the river had made the area safe for building.
This year's Missouri River floods have proved them wrong. Many residents of the planned community of about 2,500 people have been out of their homes for more than two months, and some don't know when they can return. Although not all the homes have suffered flood damage, the flooding has raised questions about the wisdom of building so near water and whether homeowners can trust the Army Corps of Engineers' flood-control system.
Sprawling Victorian mansion in Kentucky town where Audubon once lived is listed for $799,000, completely updated.
The sprawling Victorian house that appeared as the rooming house in the 1992 film "A League of Their Own" is the latest movie house to hit the market.
The home is in Henderson, Ky.; it is not a rooming house; and the price of the 8,400-square-foot mansion in a historic district near downtown is $799,000. That's less than $100 per square foot.
According to the listing, the three-story house (plus basement), has been completely restored. It has central air conditioning, nine fireplaces, Amish-built kitchen cabinets, a poker room and a third-floor ballroom with an antique bar. The photos show lots of original woodwork.
If you want to compare the look of the house today with how it looked in the movie, when Madonna, Rosie O'Donnell and Geena Davis roamed the halls, Julia at "Hooked on Houses" has quite a few photos from the movie showing the house.
The home, known as the Soaper-Esser house, was built for William Soaper, a businessman, between 1884 and 1887 (though the listing says 1894). According to a brochure for a Henderson historic walking tour, all the bricks for the house were made on-site. The entire neighborhood is on the National Register of Historic Places.
For $799,000, you can own a store, a saloon, a post office, two jails, a museum and more in the Badlands.
We were going to write about an island for sale, but why buy an island when you can have an entire town?
The town of Scenic, S.D., can be yours for the bargain price of $799,000. That's marked down for quick sale from the original asking price of $3.5 million.
The deal includes 46 acres, a "very large" dance hall with a basketball court, a historic train depot, a post office, "one working jail" and one abandoned historic jail, a gas station and convenience store, a museum, a bunkhouse, two stores, a residence, a mobile home and the "World Famous Longhorn Saloon."
Twila Merrill, 74, a former rodeo bronc rider who bought the properties over time, is selling Scenic because of age and health problems.
"The businesses and land has always been family-run, but now it’s time for someone else to come in and bring it back to life," LeeAnn Keester, Merill's daughter, told The Rapid City Journal. "It’s just me and my mom now, and now, with her health being what it is, it’s just too much for us."
Merrill's first purchase was the Longhorn Saloon, which she bought in 1963 at the urging of her father when she retired from the rodeo circuit, she told South Dakota Public Broadcasting last year. The historic saloon has appeared in National Geographic, The Saturday Evening Post, Playboy and a Coors Light commercial, she said.
The housing bust has hit minorities especially hard because so much of their wealth often is from their homes, a report says. Analysts expect more Americans to become renters.
The percentage of Americans who own their own homes declined again last quarter, reaching 65.9%, a level not seen since 1998, the U.S. Commerce Department reported.
If you think you've read this before, you're right. Homeownership has been declining since 2004, when it reached a high of 69.2%.
The lowest rate on record is 62.9% in 1965, the year the Census Department began keeping records.
The move toward a "rentership" society has been propelled by a number of factors: families losing their homes to foreclosure, stricter mortgage underwriting standards and a high rate of unemployment.
Depending on what happens with credit, the mortgage interest deduction and the overall economy, the rate of homeownership could fall an additional 1 to 2 percentage points, analysts say.
The loss of home equity has hit minorities especially hard, because a greater percentage of their wealth comes from the value of their homes. A new report from the Pew Research Center found that the housing crisis and the recession had doubled the wealth gap between whites and minorities. From 2005 to 2009, the median wealth of Hispanic households plummeted 66%, and the median wealth of black households fell 53%. That compares with a 16% loss among white households.
The aftermath of the robo-signing scandal has delayed repossessions in judicial-foreclosure states. Las Vegas continues to lead the nation in foreclosures per capita in the first half of the year.
Foreclosures were down significantly in the first six months of 2011, reflecting not improved conditions for homeowners but continued problems by lenders trying to process filings.
The number of foreclosures declined over the first six months of 2010 in 84% of the U.S. cities with populations of 200,000 or more followed by RealtyTrac. Of the top 20 metropolitan areas, only one – Seattle – showed an increase in foreclosures, up 10% over the first six months of last year.
The slowdown was largest in states that require foreclosure actions to go through the court system, including New York, New Jersey, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
"These dramatic decreases indicate the foreclosure pipeline continues to be clogged in many local markets across the country, sometimes by a glut of already-foreclosed properties that are not selling quickly, sometimes by a mountain of improperly filed foreclosures that are blocking the inflow of new foreclosure filings — and sometimes by both," James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac, said in a news release.
Of the 20 cities with the most foreclosures per capita, 15 were in Nevada, Arizona and California, with Las Vegas at the top, reporting one foreclosure filing for every 19 housing units. The national rate was one for every 583 units. Phoenix was second, with one filing for every 28 units.